Monthly Archives: August 2010

The reviews are in: Mozilla Drumbeat’s “Popcorn” is tasty

Brett Gaylor (left) and the WebMadeMovies community released their first public demo of "popcorn" last week -- and the reviews are pretty sweet.

Last week you may have heard that Brett Gaylor, open source cinema pioneer and director of RIP!: A remix manifesto, has officially joined the Mozilla team to help with Mozilla Drumbeat and the WebMadeMovies project. The WebMadeMovies team recently released their first demo of “Popcorn,” an experimental tool aimed at turning boring old online video into dynamic “hypervideo” that interacts with the rest of the web, pulling data from Google Maps, Twitter and Wikipedia right into the action. Early reviews and feedback of the demo are in — here’s a sampling of the response:

"Popcorn provides extra depth around videos, and the possibilities are thought-provoking." -- from Wired's WebMonkey.com

Wired: “Mozilla’s Popcorn Project Adds Extra Flavor to Web Video”

From Wired‘s WebMonkey.com:

Developers at [Mozilla’s] Drumbeat project — an initiative that advocates new open web technologies — have created Popcorn, a tool intended to make web video every bit as interactive as the rest of the web.

Popcorn is a very new effort and still a bit rough around the edges, but results are already impressive. Popcorn adds metadata to HTML5 native web video, annotating videos with information like location, details about the people and topics in the video, subtitles, and licensing details. The metadata can be used in real time to add to the experience….

The result is what Mozilla developer Tristan Nitot calls “hypervideo.” What Nitot means is that Popcorn is connecting video to the rest of the web, linking it into the hypertext world.

Gizmodo: “Popcorn will contribute to the growth of free video on the web”

From Gizmodo.fr (translated from French):

Some very talented geeks just created a demo of their latest creation. Under the name “Popcorn,” the demo hides a javascript library for adding metadata to videos… – anticipating the future of the web.

“Video + html5 + popcorn.js = hyper-video

More from Mozilla’s Tristan Nitot:

Popcorn.js is what I would describe as “hyper-video” (“hyper” as in “hypertext”): the ability to leverage data from the video and link to it, Web style.

I think this is a very significant step further for video on the Web, which was until now a very TV-like, passive and linear approach, now merged with the hypertext nature of the Web (its ability to link to things in other places), so that users can click on links in order to learn more. Of course, this is just a demo. Tons of things need to be done, but I see this as a very cool way to show what HTML5 and its video element, combined with the power of JavaScript and mash-ups.


“Mozilla Popcorn: a new dimension to video”

From the Romanian site CHIP online:

Video at this time is a mostly passive experience: you click and watch movies, pretty much…. Post-Flash technology opens new horizons for HTML5 video on the Internet.

“The future of web video”

A sampling of the reaction on Twitter:

“the future of web-video. Can’t wait for this to be the regular.”adamstributer

“Popcorn semantic video demo brings us a step closer to Open Source Cinema”gabrielshalom

“HTML5 video is not just video, it’s HTML” html5guy

“E-learning video game changer?” tylerwall

Popcorn.js making internet video exciting again” SimonHold

Feedback for round two: Less is more?

One interesting note on the user experience from CHIP online (with apologies for the poor translation):

Personally, I find [the meta-data] still a bit chaotic, and it steals attention away from the video, which should be the main star. Popcorn is just the beginning, and could be the way to a special experience. But success will depend more on how to implement it.

The first Popcorn demo takes an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach, showcasing ALL the various meta-data that could be included to enhance a video experience. That makes sense as a first demo designed to show the full range of what’s possible. But for subsequent demos, “less is more” may be the way to go — reigning in some of the meta-data to focus on serving the story more and avoid overload.

“Hyper-video” and “Popcorn” feel sticky

Other takeaways from the reviews and feedback:

  • People are adopting the “Popcorn” brand. Maybe that’s a brand we should consider making more central in our messaging around the project? “Popcorn” vs. “WebMadeMovies?”
  • “Hyper-video” seems to resonate with people as a way to describe what it is. In terms of grokking the front-end experience and helping first-timers understand the value and difference of open video versus “TV in a web page.”
  • Exploring the storytelling and creative possibilities will be key. Getting the user experience right will be as much a creative challenge as a technological one. Which is exactly why WebMadeMovies’ larger mission and plan to bring hackers and filmmakers together on the project is so ideal.

Popcorn veut contribuer à l’essor de la vidéo libre sur le web

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Des geeks bourrés de talents viennent de faire une démo de leur dernière création.

Sous le nom de “Popcorn” se cache une bibliothèque javascript permettant d’ajouter des méta-données à une vidéo. Ces dernières pourront être exploitées pendant la lecture de la vidéo comme l’explique le grand chef de Mozzarella Europe sur son blog.

Pour montrer comment fonctionne ce petit système qui préfigure l’avenir du web, les développeurs ont mis une vidéo (encodée dans le format libre Ogg évidemment) dans une page codée en HTML 5. Si vous avez un navigateur moderne (Firefox 3.5 minimum) et que vous voulez voir le résultat, c’est par ici.

MPEG LA n’a qu’à bien se tenir, l’avenir appartient à ceux qui ne veulent pas débourser de l’argent inutilement pour acquérir le droit d’utiliser un codec aiment la liberté ! [Brett Gaylor]

Mozilla Drumbeat Festival: registration is now open!

Beautiful Barcelona will host the Mozilla Drumbeat Learning, Freedom and the Web Festival November 3 - 5. (cc Marcel Germain)

Registration for the 2010 Mozilla Drumbeat Festival is now open! Join teachers, learners and technologists from around the world November 3 – 5 in Barcelona to teach, hack, shape and invent the future of education and the web.

Not your typical conference

Imagine a teeming festival filled with different tents, each with its own unique flavor and focus as you move from tent to tent making up your own experience. The Drumbeat Festival will work just like this – with multiple spaces to teach, make and learn in a variety of different studios, labs, playgrounds and classrooms.

From a local learning incubator, badge lab and open source classroom to hackerspace playground, wikipedia lounge and video and learning gallery, there’ll be multiple spaces to dive deep and get your hands dirty.

The main stage will include keynotes from Joi Ito, Brenda Gourley, Bre Pettis, Mitchell Baker and others. Think Makerfaire + Hackfest + TEDtalks + Lollapalooza for open web education!

Mozilla Drumbeat Mitchell Baker

Lots of ways to get involved now

The brand new Drumbeat Festival site has tons of updated information and resources, including updated program info, the Festival wiki, and lots of ways to get involved now — from volunteer opportunities, to proposing your program ideas, to travel scholarship applications. Help spread the word about the Festival by sharing on identi.ca or twitter, or passing along the drumbeat.org/festival site to savvy innovators working at the intersection of education and the open web. See you in Barcelona!

Education for the open web fellowship: new deadline

In May, Mozilla and the Shuttleworth Foundation announced a new Education for the Open Web Fellowship. The aim is to support practical ideas that help people learn about, improve and promote the open nature of the internet, as part of our commitment to supporting leaders working at the intersection of open education and the open web.

While response was promising, we did not feel any of the submissions were far enough along to award the fellowship in July as planned. So we’ve decided to a) push back the application deadline to October 17, 2010, to allow existing applicants to further strengthen their pitch and new applicants to throw their hat into the ring; and b) offer the early stage proposals a chance at small grants that will help them get off the ground.

We’ll also offer travel scholarships for three promising early stage projects to participate in the Mozilla Drumbeat “Leaning, Freedom and the Web” Festival in Barcelona this November.

What are we looking for? And how can you make your pitch stronger?

Based on learning from the first round of fellowship applications, here are five things we encourage applicants to consider in writing up their idea:

1) Tell us your story. The person behind the project is as important as the project itself.

We want to know about the social entrepreneur or visionary behind the project. The fellowship basically pays the salary for one person for one year — so finding out exactly who that person is is important. Create and flesh out your profile page on Drumbeat.org to tell us more about your mission in life, your bio, and your “big picture.”

(cc Mark Surman)

2) Community engagement and participation are key.

The best project proposals will clearly spell out how they’re going to engage communities and enable participation from real people. This is crucial — and often difficult to achieve in real life. So be sure to provide some meat around how your project will enable meaningful participation and community engagement. Simply saying something like  “we’ll move an existing offline  community over to online” or “we’ll reach out to community x or y” is probably not specific enough.

3) We’re looking for cross-pollination between open education and the open web.

The best projects aim for innovation in both the education and open web space. Great educational initatives that happen to have a web site or some online component aren’t quite it. And neither is simply building online tools or software for education projects. The best projects are true hybrids — ideas that can help reinvent education and make the web better at the same time.

4) Include a roadmap.

Promising people and ideas are great. But baked strategies and plans are even better. Try to include a clear roadmap of how you’ll spend your fellowship year, with an emphasis on outcomes, milestones and tangible products.

5) Make a great video.

If at all possible, include a short video or slide presentation. It can be as simple as you explaining the project to your web cam. You can also check out examples of other successful Shuttleworth Fellowship application videos for inspiration.

Remember: it’s not a competition — it’s a community.
Collaboration and communication between projects is encouraged. Let’s use this as a jumping off point for building ties and connections to each other that help grow the space. Check out and comment on the gallery of existing project proposals or rope others into collaborating around similar ideas.

There’s multiple ways for your project to get recognition and help.
In addition to the one-year fellowship, all applicants will be eligible for Mozilla Drumbeat’s new monthly grants for featured projects — which include $1,000 and hands-on help from Mozilla. Plus a chance to receive a travel scholarship for the Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona on November 3 – 5.

The fellowship grant amount will be  equivalent to one  year’s salary, and includes contribution toward expenses and travel — plus potential access to an investment pool that will match personal investments in projects by at least ten-fold. Fellows may also receive help with online fundraising, and future support in seeking grants from other sources.

The deadline for all applications is October 17.
To apply, simply fill out a project page and personal profile at Drumbeat.org. Project proposals must follow the original guidelines outlined here. Fellowship recipients will be announced by the end of the year.